Pep Guardiola defends lack of substitutions in Leipzig draw

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has dismissed criticism over his failure to use a single substitute in his side’s 1-1 draw with RB Leipzig on Wednesday.

Guardiola, one of the strongest advocates for more substitutions in English football, declined to turn to his bench at all in Leipzig, despite boasting a full 11-man reserve outfit and searching for a winner for the final 20 minutes of the game.

Julian Alvarez and Phil Foden were the big-name attackers on Guardiola’s bench but neither got a look-in, and after the game, the boss defended his decisions.

“I have the opportunity as a rule to make five substitutions,” he began. “But I am the manager and I apply it and I take it if I want.

“So that doesn’t mean that because I have five substitutions I have to do five substitutions. And I am a so good manager to decide what I have to do or not.”

Pushed for an actual explanation, Guardiola added: “I was really pleased with what I was seeing. So I thought of course with Phil to have this talent to do this. But after the goal I thought immediately to put Phil, but immediately we took again the game in our hands and then with this control that we had.

“Because they play with six up front, we play with the two-two plus the full-backs plus the wingers, four players, incredible runners, and in that position and the way they play you have to have a lot of control.

“That’s why the players that we had, like Gundo [Ilkay Gundogan], like Riyad [Mahrez], the extra passes they were doing are what we need, especially in the first leg. Maybe in the second leg I will decide to be crazy and play with nine strikers!

“But in this game I felt – I’ve been in this country, I’ve analysed as much as possible with my people – I needed this type of control because otherwise it becomes up-and-down and open.

“Of course it was open, there were one or two actions from Gundo to pass the ball to Erling [Haaland] that they blocked, but in these type of situations they are better. German teams they are better than us [in transition].”

The result leaves City needing a victory when Leipzig visit the Etihad on March 14, before which Guardiola’s side must face Bournemouth, Bristol City, Newcastle and Crystal Palace.


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